The sectional sofas has come into its own today. By sectional, I mean modular units, like furniture bits or units. These units can be combined in an infinite array to conform to the shape of the room and the needs of the homeowners. It’s the industry darling. And the reason why is simple. Open floor plans and a more casual conversational mood prevail.
The goal is to make seating convenient for family and guests, not stuffy and formal.
Who, where, and when
This begs the question – who, where, and when was the sectional sofa first invented.
Thomas Jefferson, the third president, is well known for designing his home at Monticello and his contributions to the design of the University of Virginia in Charlotte. He also dabbled in furniture. Most famously he acquired an uncommon revolving chair from New York City cabinetmaker Thomas Burling. Jefferson later obtained a neoclassical mahogany sofa with removable arms dating to 1790-1810. The ends of the seat bench curved inwards. And the revolving circular seat of Jefferson’s armchair fit at the sofa’s end like a hand in a glove.
This combination was perhaps the first multi-functional set furniture.
Thereafter, the history of modular furniture is clouded, confused by the destruction caused during the Civil War. It is said, however, that tha actual sectional, modular units connected by latches, was born in an area along Virginia’a Rappahannock River where wealthy landowners competed with each other for new innovations in furniture seating. An example dating to 1820 exists in Fredericksburg, comprising of three sections with metal latches underneath. Little else remains because of the damage inflicted by the battles that took place in central and eastern Virginia. The idea perhaps stems from the existence of the corner chair. This “odd duck” was used to create seating in hard to reach areas. From the corner chair it was not hard to connect sofas as Jefferson did to create extended seating and the sectional sofa. Pushing chair to sofa or sofa to sofa to allow additional seating for a large social gathering is not much of a stretch of the imagination.
Today the sectional sofa is a welcome addition to a comfortable home.
See sectionals now at Traditions Home